Voters are being asked to support a $175 million building bond referendum that would raise money to modernize key areas of Mundelein High School, including the cafeteria, auditorium and athletic facilities. The improvements would also improve the building’s mechanical and electrical efficiency; expand Career and Technical Education spaces; expand Transition Center spaces; improve mental health and wellness spaces and increase multi-purpose space throughout the school.
Some areas of MHS have not been improved since the school opened in 1961. Our original kitchen is outdated, our auditorium and gymnasiums do not meet current ADA accessibility requirements, and our athletics spaces need to be of more flexible use to fit today’s athletic needs. We also are limited in space for academics and activities, leading to sub-optimized scheduling and long hours of facility use
A successful referendum would mean a tax increase for property owners inside District 120 boundaries. The tax rate increase will be phased-in during the first three years with less of an impact during the initial two years and more of an impact in later years. The tax rate would increase by 35 cents (per $100 of equalized assessed valuation) in 2024, by 60 cents in 2025 and 80 cents by 2026. The tax impact for the owner of a $300,000 house would be about $320 for the first year, about $550 in the second year and about $690 in the third and subsequent years. Those numbers could possibly decrease slightly in future years, depending on how much the overall property value in District 120 increases.
Currently, the tax rate for Mundelein High School is $2.48 (per $100 of equalized assessed valuation), the third lowest among Lake County high school districts. As the tax rate increase is phased in, MHS would move to the top quarter among Lake County high school districts.
While MHS has had some successes in its CTE programs, including a winning Robotics team, and students who were among the first in Lake County to be certified on CNC (computer numerical controlled) machines at their school, the programs still lag behind neighboring schools due to a lack of space. The MHS woods lab is about 40 years old and MHS does not have a metals lab. Without a metals lab, students at MHS can’t be introduced to welding, or shaping metal, or metal lathes. This puts our graduates at a competitive disadvantage for technical careers in a county where one of every seven jobs is in manufacturing or engineering-related.
It will be up to the school board to decide on next steps. But without school improvements, student programs and opportunities would be limited by outdated facilities. Currently, common spaces - open spaces for student gathering - are at capacity. Schedules will remain impacted by these constraints and limitations. Because of limited cafeteria space, MHS operates four sections of lunch spread out between 10:15 a.m. and 1:40 p.m. to accommodate students. Athletes share practice space, pushing some practice sessions well into the evening hours and the district regularly spends money on the maintenance and repair of outdated systems and equipment. If we ever need to implement spacing mediations due to events like COVID, MHS has only limited options.
Some of these improvements have been needed for some time. The Board decided to stop delaying the inevitable work. The high school was built for a capacity of 1,500 students. We currently have more than 2,200 students and our community is expected to grow over the next two decades. We recognize the connection between involvement in performing arts and athletics and the social-emotional development of students. Increased spaces allow for greater inclusion in our programs.
When MHS opened in 1961, there were 10 boys sports and two girls sports offerings. Currently IHSA sanctions 17 girls sports and 15 boys sports. There is simply not enough space to accommodate all the practices and games at the same time. Practices are regularly pushed into the later evening hours or early morning hours to give students the opportunity to participate in sports. Neighboring high schools (and even some grade schools) have venues such as auditoriums and field houses that meet their needs. Modern facilities are essential to be competitive with neighboring schools
The district has about $50 million in a building fund, most of which must be used by the summer of 2025. While it isn’t enough on its own to fund the needed projects, using that money as part of the overall improvements from this plan would be a much more efficient use of those dollars. The district also owns property to the north which could be used for some outdoor athletic facilities. We are exploring a partnership with the Mundelein Park District for that project which could save taxpayer dollars. District 120 is fortunate enough to have a facilities director with a background in project management. By using our own project manager, we would not have to spend additional tax dollars on a consulting project manager. Our architectural and engineering consultants have a proven record of obtaining grants to supplement our investment in the projects
The Science Lab and classroom additions were built six years ago, in 2017, and funded mostly through grants. They remain in good condition and are one of the more modern areas of our high school. While that section won’t need improvements, there are areas such as the cafeteria, kitchen and auditorium that haven’t been improved since they were built more than 60 years ago
School District 120 acquired the $50 million from an existing line of credit in the summer of 2022 after it paid off bonds that were used to pay for the 2016 science wing addition. The School Board earmarked those dollars for expected capital improvement needs. This move did not increase the district’s current tax rate of $2.48 per $100 of equalized assessed value. District 120 continues to have the third lowest tax rate of any high school district in Lake County.
The last time District 120 asked for an increase to the tax rate was in 2011 for debt service. The 2011 referendum allowed the BOE to sell bonds to pay for the stadium turf, the total remodeling of the natatorium, and infrastructure improvements.